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August 29th, 2003


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06:02 am - Decisions, decisions
On a very slow night, I've spent a good deal of time thinking about what I'm going to do with that chunk of yard that I dug up last week. My overall plan is to transplant the evergreen shrubs that are there and plant some sort of attractive groundcover. I'm looking at prairie plants for their ability to keep out weeds once mature and their robust natures.

The very nice web site of Prairie Nursery has nice little charts in their plant selection area that are organized by the amount of sun your plot gets, how much water it gets and what sort of soil you have. The south side of my house is a mixture of dry sandy soil near the house and a moist loamy soil where the turf has been growing for many years.

So far, I'm sticking to short plants for this side, thinking that will make any maintenance easier and will also keep it "neater" looking for the neighbors. As grass is the base of any prairie, I'm figuring on a good dose of Little Bluestem and Prairie Dropseed grasses. These both top out at 2-4 feet when mature. Both are clump-forming grasses so they shouldn't spread too much and will leave space for the flowers. A fairly random selection process ended up giving me what seems to be a mix of interesting flowers for the area. First is Prairie Smoke, a short, whispy pink flower that blooms from May to June. Then Black-Eyed Susan, Narrow-Leafed Purple Coneflower and Purple Prairie Clover bloom from June to August. In the later summer Heath Aster and the grasses bloom for color from August to October. The grasses retain their gold and bronze colors for winter interest as well.

In looking for what I might want to do with the front yard I can see why the nursery sells garden kits! So many choices! The hardy, lovely Bergamot seems a natural choice (plus Ericka's favorite color is purple). The Cupplant looks interesting for its ability to attract birds and butterflies, but do I really want a plant capable of growing to 10 feet tall in my front yard!? The various varieties of Purple Coneflower look like they'd be good choices as would the Wester Sunflower. And then there's the very pretty Harebell and Mountain Blue-Eyed Grass with their blue flowers.

I've tracked down a place called Landscape Alternatives that's a short drive from my house. Their web site isn't as spiffy as Prairie Nursery's but they seem to be a source for plants hardy in the local area. I'm thinking I'll go check them out on Saturday if I wake up early enough. They might have some ideas on what works well together and perhaps somethings that are better to start with while others might be added later.
Current Mood: intimidatedintimidated
Current Music: Fool Am I--Adam Stemple--3 Solid Blows to the Head

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From:jbru
Date:August 29th, 2003 05:33 am (UTC)
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Hmm. Purple vs. allergenic. I still need to get a copy of that book you recommended about gardening and allergies.

My only problem with shrubs is that they don't cover the amount of territory I want to be relatively weed-free in anything resembling a short amount of time. So I'm going the prairie grass/wildflower route to fill in the space with something desirable. From my research, once it's established (which could take three to five years), the only maintenance will be annual mowing and removal of the previous year's growth. No watering, feeding, etc. I can deal with that level of maintenance.

Yeah, bergamot!
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From:ktynes
Date:August 29th, 2003 06:41 am (UTC)

Coneflowers?

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Coneflowers, whose proper name is Echinacea, is allergenic? Well, that's a surprise. I, too, would like to look at this book about gardening and allergies. What is the title?
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From:90_percent_sure
Date:August 29th, 2003 07:57 am (UTC)

Re: Coneflowers?

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Echinacea purpura is the good one with herbal properties. The others augustfolio, palladium, paradoxia (including 'narrowleaf' varieties) are ornamentals.

Purpura is renouned for it's immune building properties; it's also used to treat sinusitis, allergies, hay fever, etc.

I met an herbalist who taught me the correct way to ID that you've got good purpura: you nibble on the dried root. You *know* when you've got the good stuff--It's like chewing on tinfoil, sticking your finger in a socket, eating some salt and licking rocks...all at once.

If it were me, I'd grow the purpura. It's close to being endangered, IIRC.
[User Picture]
From:jbru
Date:August 29th, 2003 04:41 pm (UTC)

Re: Coneflowers?

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Yep, I'm planning on putting in some of the purpura, but not on the south side of the house. There, I think I'll go with the shorter narrowleaf varieties in order to keep things looking more controlled. For the front prairie, though, it'll be the real thing going in.

It may be endangered in the wild, but it seems to be fairly easy to come by at the mail-order places I've looked at. Most places seem to be working to keep the genetic diversity of the species up as well as producing enough seed and plants to sell.
[User Picture]
From:angeyja
Date:August 29th, 2003 05:45 pm (UTC)

Re: Coneflowers?

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I think it can be an allergen although I don't know how common that is. I notice the problem with one of my dogs (who has immune system problems). But although I have other allergies, it doesn't seem to bother me.

I'm growing two varieties right now along with a light violet flowered mallow and they are doing extremely well even in our difficult climate, zone 4-5 and very abrupt shifts in weather. It comes very easy from seed. I'm not generally too good at growing things from scratch but this one really was easy.

Most of my seeds came from JL Hudson at http://www.jlhudsonseeds.net/ which if you have any interest in biodiversity, sustainable gardening, or saving your own seed might interest you in other ways also. They do have some grasses and also one of the best general selections I've ever run across.
[User Picture]
From:jbru
Date:August 29th, 2003 04:37 pm (UTC)

Re: Coneflowers?

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The book daedala recommended was Safe Sex in the Garden by Ogren. I saw it listed on Amazon and hope to find it in our local library.
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From:jbru
Date:August 29th, 2003 09:52 pm (UTC)

Re: Coneflowers?

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OK. If it sucks, I won't blame you. :)

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